During the #metoo movement in Hollywood, it seemed each day brought a new denial or apology from celebrities whose work we know and love. And with each statement came a plethora of critiques on said statements from “Kevin Spacey Criticized for Using Apology to Anthony Rapp to Come Out” of the closet, to “Casey Affleck Apologizes For… Something” (“unprofessional behavior”), to “Defiant Harvey Weinstein denies sex crime charges. He ‘did not invent the casting couch,’ attorney says.”
Each and every statement released by an accused’s team was criticized as not being good enough, and it got me thinking, what would be? An upfront admission would be an obvious start, but when Morgan Spurlock came forward with a surprising confession to sexual assault having not even been accused, once again it was met with criticism. There are several reasons for his statement’s insufficiency, including a notable lack of apology as well as unnecessary excuse-making. Some said that he did what he did to get on top of an accusation he knew was coming as a means of stealing control of the narrative. But even despite those defects, solely claiming responsibility just doesn’t feel like enough.
I have formed an opinion of what the proper response should be to these allegations. (As a disclaimer, the following tips are formed under the sensible assumption that the allegations are true, because the number of false allegations is merely 2-8% of reported rapes and of that minuscule percentage, less than 5% of them will even lead to an arrest let alone charges.) So keep reading for 6 easy steps on how to properly respond to rape allegations against you!
1) Take Responsibility
No denials. No playing dumb. NO EXCUSES. However you are first confronted with the accusation, leave your mental gymnastics at home and own up to what you’ve done. Say the words, “Yes, I did it, I knew it, and I was wrong.” Mean it.
2) Turn Yourself In to the Authorities
This is the part where you really get to prove that you are willing to pay the price. You got caught. It’s over. You likely got the privilege to enjoy years or even decades of freedom between this particular crime and having to pay for it. You should consider yourself lucky. And don’t forget, the fact that you did enjoy that freedom is convincing evidence that you’re only sorry you got caught — so you have a lot to prove if you ever want to redeem yourself. But keep following these steps, and you just might!
3) Genuinely Apologize
It’s possible your victim would prefer never to hear from you again, and if you know that is the case, then respect their wishes. This step can be done at any point after step two, but not before it. You aren’t sorry if you refuse to take accountability. You aren’t sorry if you’re still putting your wishes over the needs of others. Once you have confessed and shown you are willing to face the consequences, only then do you have any semblance of ground to stand on to claim you are sorry. To perfect the timing of this step, it is crucial that you are first genuinely sorry. If you are not yet, then proceed to step 4 and come back later.
4) Commit to Resolving Your Issues
I would say hopefully there are services in prison, but since your likelihood of actually being incarcerated, even among reported rapes, is only about 2%, I won’t. But you should go to therapy, join a group. This is the part where you can unload all the things you think are valid excuses and uncover what it is about you that leads you to violating other people. You should use this time to focus solely on yourself and what you’ve done. That means your career, your social media following, those things get put on the backburner. Until you figure out and treat whatever it is that causes you to harm other human beings, the likelihood you will do it again is high.
5) Give Back
Now that you know what it is that led you to go down this path of violence and crime, you owe it to society to be an example of how someone can actually reform. Maybe volunteer at a prison or juvenile center. Maybe you can start a blog of your own. Use your unique perspective as an admitted and now reformed sex offender to help others avoid going down the path you did. You may never be fully accepted as an ally in the movement to end sex crimes, but whenever you feel sorry for yourself or resentful that a portion of your time must now be devoted to this, think about your victim. They have it worse, and that’s on you.
6) Never do it again
If you have been so lucky to get a second chance, then truly congratulations and thank you for the work you’ve done. I personally will allow you back into the world, and I know there are others who will, too. No longer do you need to hide your secret, no longer do you need to be afraid that you’re next. You’ve done your time. Now you get to have a future. But if you use that future to hurt anyone again, you will not get a second chance at forgiveness.
This is what I want the accused to know: Although our justice system is effectively optional to you, our social systems are progressing much more rapidly. We live in a time where many of us are listening to the accuser, believing the accuser, and we will not forget what we’ve heard. You now are so lucky to have a choice: silence and secrecy for the rest of your life, or a few good years of ramifications from your own decisions followed by the rest of your life as a functioning, honest member of society. Though #metoo and similar outcries may make you feel like the world is out to get you, the truth is, all any of us want is to be safe, and if there’s a way for you to make that happen, we welcome it with open arms.